Monday, July 26, 2021

ARCA: Brake issues drop Stephanie Moyer to last at Iowa

PHOTO: @StartAndParkCar

by William Soquet Staff Writer

Stephanie Moyer picked up the first last-place finish of her ARCA Menards Series career in Saturday’s Shore Lunch 150 at Iowa Speedway when her #01 / Council Cup Campground Toyota retired with brake failure after completing 14 of the race’s 150 laps.

The finish came in Moyer’s second series start.

Stephanie Moyer is no stranger to the racing world. The Sheppton, Pennsylvania driver began her career in go-kart racing and then moved to the factory stock division at Evergreen Raceway Park, a paved short track in Hazelton, Pennsylvania. She then attended the University of Northwestern Ohio in the automotive technology program, graduating in 2019. She gained valuable experience while there, landing as a member of the Mason Mitchell Motorsports team before its closure. Returning to Evergreen in a full-time capacity in 2020, Moyer won the track championship in the factory stock division and promptly set her sights on the bigger and faster series, namely the ARCA series where she had already turned wrenches. She tested with Fast Track Racing at Daytona in the beginning of the year and was approved to drive by the series. After a debut in the East Series at Five Flags, Moyer made her first national ARCA start at Pocono in June, staying out of trouble and finishing 16th in a 25-car field. Her effort for Iowa included backing from Evergreen Raceway Park and Council Cup Campground, a campground in eastern Pennsylvania.

As it was a combination race with the ARCA Menards Series East, a rather large field of 23 cars was entered for the race at Iowa. The East contingent included Rajah Caruth of Rev Racing, Sammy Smith of Joe Gibbs Racing, Mason Diaz of Visconti Motorsports, Joey Iest of David Gilliland Racing, and Max Gutierrez of Rette Jones Racing. ARCA West standout Jesse Love rejoined Venturini Motorsports for his limited schedule, and Morgan Alexander returned for his second consecutive race. Tim Richmond and Eric Caudell returned for their own teams, and despite some hesitance after a crash at Pocono, Bret Holmes Racing returned with the eponymous team owner behind the wheel. Fast Track filled out their cars with D.L. Wilson, back for the first time since Charlotte, Owen Smith, and Bryce Haugeberg, the hot shoe from North Dakota. The one series debut in the field was Conner Jones, a JR Motorsports late model driver that teamed up with Bruce Cook Racing for the Iowa event. A second Cook entry withdrew, and entries from both Wayne Peterson Racing and RSS Racing never found their way to the entry list.

Now the marquee event of the year at Iowa Speedway, the ARCA cars took their time with a full practice session in addition to qualifying. In practice, Wilson and Haugeberg were 23rd and 22nd, respectively, just under two-tenths apart in the mid-27 second range. Both drivers knocked their times down to the low-27s in qualifying, and thus leapfrogged Brad Smith, who, with a working crew of just one other person at the track, put down a lap of 27.39 seconds in qualifying.

With no tail-end penalties, the 48 machine took the green shotgun on the field. He retained the 23rd position for the first one-and-a-half laps, when Mason Diaz got loose under Conner Jones and spun in turn three, not hitting the wall or any other driver. In turn, he handed last-place over to Daniel Dye, whose GMS Racing crew thought that the car was a little sluggish at the start of the race and took the opportunity of an early caution to pop the hood and check for engine problems, of which they found none.

On the restart, both ascended rapidly through the back half of the field, quickly putting Smith in last place for a second time in the race. Despite being 14 seconds back on lap ten, Smith kept Haugeberg in close proximity the whole time, trailing the 11 car by less than a second. Both cars were lapped for the first time on the 13th circuit.

Meanwhile, Moyer was running 21st, a fair distance ahead of the last two cars. She did not enter the last-place battle until she exited the racetrack on Lap 15, having stayed on the lead lap for the duration of her run. The TrackPass leaderboard dropped her to last on the 16th go-round, listed her as “off” on Lap 19, and declared her “out” on the following time by. Reports from the track Saturday afternoon indicated that the 01 was a planned start-and-park effort, and the driver’s only comment on her race across all social media channels was one word: “Welp,” posted to her Twitter account, @Steph_Moyer.

Fast Track teammate Cosentino was the next car to retire, his race done after 18 laps. Jones and Iest fell out in a two-car incident on lap 27, and Brad Smith rounded out the Bottom Five when clutch issues sidelined him at the one-third mark of the race.

23) #01-Stephanie Moyer / 14 laps / brakes
22) #12-Tony Cosentino / 18 laps / transmission
21) #42-Conner Jones / 26 laps / accident
20) #54-Joey Iest / 26 laps / accident
19) #48-Brad Smith / 50 laps / clutch

1st) Chevrolet (5)
2nd) Ford (4)
3rd) Toyota (2)

1st) Fast Track Racing (4)
2nd) Young’s Motorsports (2)
3rd) Greg Van Alst Motorsports, Kimmel Racing, Rette Jones Racing, Smith Brothers Racing, Wayne Peterson Racing (1)


Wednesday, July 21, 2021

OPINION: Don’t hate the drivers for it, but Cup regulars in Xfinity still do more harm than good

PHOTO: @NewsFromThePits

by Ben Schneider Guest Contributor

EDITOR'S NOTE: I am pleased to introduce Ben Schneider as the newest member of the team! Ben, who hails from Delaware, is a contributor to the Global Racing Index Database, where he also appears on a racing podcast. He also has a YouTube channel where he discusses the history of both NASCAR and of game shows, which can be found at this link. Most importantly, like myself and William Soquet, he shares a passion for supporting racing's smaller teams, as you will see in his features on this site. Today's article is his first for 

On Saturday, for the third consecutive race and fifth time in the last six races, a NASCAR Cup Series regular stepped down into the Xfinity Series and took the victory away from an Xfinity driver. In his first series start since 2019, Christopher Bell drove the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to the win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

The No. 54 car has also been to Victory Lane five other times this season with Kyle Busch, who has easily been the most prominent Cup driver in NASCAR’s second-tier series in recent years. Busch did something this season that he’s never done before, winning every single one of his allotted Xfinity starts for the season. His career wins total now stands at 102, a record that, like Richard Petty’s 200 wins in the Cup Series, will almost certainly never be broken.

With Busch reaching his 100-win milestone and Bell following it up with a win of his own, the topic of Cup drivers competing in NASCAR’s lower divisions is again a timely debate. My longtime social media followers will know that I have never personally been a fan of seeing Cup drivers race in the Xfinity and Truck Series. My belief is that it takes the spotlight away from the series regulars, which in turn hurts their development.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the 2007-12 Cup seasons saw some of the weakest rookie classes in history. In those years, when NASCAR allowed its drivers to score points in all three series, it was not uncommon to see more than 10 or 15 Cup regulars in an Xfinity race. The 2007 Sam’s Town 300 at Las Vegas alone had 26 Cup drivers in the field. If the Xfinity Series’ own slogan is to be believed, that’s 26 more “names” that could have been “made here” that weren’t, all because an already established name took that seat away.

Think of it this way: of Busch’s 102 series wins, only five came before he entered the Cup Series full-time in 2005. Theoretically, that’s 97 race wins that could have gone to a series regular, whether it be an up-and-coming young talent searching for a big break, an independent on a shoestring budget, or a former Cup veteran enjoying a career revival with an Xfinity team.

This isn’t a “big name” stepping into a one-off local late model charity race to help bring attention to it. It’s a big name stepping into a nationally televised series with a defined purpose to take attention away from it. How often do we see Scott Dixon competing in an Indy Lights race? It would be as absurd as seeing Lewis Hamilton on a Formula 3 grid. Should Shohei Ohtani go pitch and hit home runs for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate on his off days? It would be as preposterous as Giannis Antetokounmpo playing G League basketball for the Wisconsin Herd. 

The NASCAR Xfinity Series already has its own stars of the show, and with that, its own purpose. It is promoted as a proving ground for drivers (and, given Kaulig Racing’s recent charter acquisitions, even teams) wishing to one day compete with NASCAR’s superstars on Sundays. But the “Names Are Made Here” slogan rings especially hollow when a name that was already made there steals all the glory.

Now to be fair, I want to avoid placing the blame on the drivers here. There is always a lot of criticism (and unfortunately even ad hominem attacks) thrown Busch’s way whenever he (or anyone else) steps into an Xfinity car. But Busch has the freedom to race per NASCAR’s rules and regulations. 

Busch claimed he would retire from the series once he reached win No. 100. If we take him at his word (it’s worth noting he said in his post-race interview at Atlanta “never say never”), we now have an opportunity to reflect on his accomplishment. To score 100 career wins in a NASCAR national touring series is no small feat. It requires talent, longevity, and an undeterred drive and passion for the sport. Busch has all of those, and it’s important to give him credit where it’s due for what he has done. Jumping into a car that drives completely differently from his Cup car - often with no practice or qualifying - and driving it to a win is still impressive, and to say it isn’t would be an insult to the Xfinity regulars. 

Still, I believe it is possible to both appreciate Busch’s achievement while also criticizing the rule that allowed him to reach it. They say when you’re frustrated with a flawed system not to hate the player, but to hate the game. So while I commend Kyle Busch for reaching his personal goal, I also hope NASCAR reconsiders whether it’s worth seeing their Xfinity teams and drivers continue to race for second.

Otherwise, “Names Are Made Here” will continue to ring a bit hollow.

Monday, July 19, 2021

SRX: Willy T. Ribbs the only DNF of Nashville finale


by William Soquet Staff Writer

Willy T. Ribbs finished last for the first time in his Superstar Racing Experience career in Saturday’s event at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville when his #17 Fram Filters machine was involved in a single-car accident after 57 of the race’s 77 laps.

The finish came in Ribbs’ sixth career start. Across series history, it was the first for car number 17 and the second for crew chief Todd Parrott.

On paper, the 2021 Superstar Racing Experience season has not been kind to Willy T. Ribbs. Racing on short ovals that the 66-year-old career road racer had little to no experience on, Ribbs has struggled to find good finishes, with a best effort of seventh at Slinger after avoiding a lot of carnage. However, the paper doesn’t tell the story. Whether seen on the broadcast or on social media, Ribbs often has a wide smile on his face, clearly enjoying his time mixing it up with other stars from his generation and stars that are young enough to be his children.

Nashville was perhaps the highest-profile race for the series so far due to its field of drivers. The series quietly brushed aside the fact that there was no “local hero” in light of the two ringer drivers enlisted for Nashville. The two ringer drivers were only two of the most recognizable names in American motorsport: Elliott and Deegan. Hailie Deegan returned as a proper ringer for the season finale after being a super-sub for Tony Kanaan in two earlier events, and Chase Elliott joined the series for a rare opportunity to race against his father, Bill. With no practice or qualifying before his NASCAR Cup Series race, Chase was able to make a Saturday night race in Nashville work, and it was an extremely fun dynamic going in to the event. There was no shortage of fireworks on the crew chief side of things, either. Tony Eury Jr. completed his half-season as a replacement for Mike Beam, and veteran late model crew chief Ricky Taylor joined the series as the ringer crew chief. Taylor is perhaps best-known for guiding Chase Elliott to Snowball Derby wins in 2011 and 2015, but has plenty of repute inside the short track community for myriad achievements.

Last week’s last-place finisher Michael Waltrip received no reprieve from the random draw, as he started in 12th. However, he passed 11th-place starter Ribbs in the first set of turns and set sail, as the 17 car was 11 seconds behind the leader and 5.5 seconds behind 11th at the halfway mark of Heat 1. Even with a caution for a commercial break, Ribbs could not make a pass on anybody and finished out the first heat in last.

LASTCAR SRX Drivers Champion Bill Elliott won the first heat after starting from the front row and therefore inherited the last starting position for the second heat. He dropped his son, the 11th-place starter, to last at the end of the first lap and cleared the #94 heading into Turn 1 on the second lap. Ribbs, meanwhile, had drifted back to ninth, and found himself the odd man out when Bill Elliott and Marco Andretti made it three-wide around the one minute mark for ninth. Ribbs checked-up as he was all the way by the wall in the turn and Chase Elliott also passed him, relegating Willy T. to the caboose position again, where he would finish Heat 2.

With last-place finishes in both heats, Ribbs started last in the feature event. He was cleared by 11th-place running Hailie Deegan by turn one of the opening lap and slowly faded away from the field, falling six seconds back by lap seven. On the first restart, Michael Waltrip cleared Ribbs by the start/finish line, again quelling hopes of an immediate overtake. He ran last again until the next caution, with a restart on Lap 55. A jumble of cars fighting for real estate in turn two the following circuit led to Ernie Francis Jr. making contact with the wall on the backstretch. Ribbs, trailing the group, hit the binders hard and spun the car around by himself, nosing it into the inside wall and dislodging the front bumper a bit.

Due to the damage, Ribbs went behind the wall during the ensuing caution, and while crew chief Todd Parrott’s crew attempted to Sawzall the front bumper off, Ribbs instead climbed from his car, ending his race. While the crash occurred with 21 laps to go, Ribbs was listed as “out” with 14 to go with a grey color on the scoreboard. During his exit interview with Matt Yocum, Ribbs spoke highly of the series.

“It was an awesome experience,” he said. “It was either run in to the back of them or spin out, and I wasn’t going to take them out of the race.”

And thus ended the season for Ribbs. Marco Andretti and Hailie Deegan rounded out the Bottom Three, side-by-side as they crossed the finish line.

12) #17-Willy T. Ribbs / 57 laps / crash
11) #98-Marco Andretti / 77 laps / running
10) #1-Hailie Deegan / 77 laps / running

1st) Jeff Hammond, Todd Parrott (2)
2nd) Mike Christopher, Keith Kunz (1)


ARCA: Mike Basham finishes last at Berlin in first 2021 start


by William Soquet Staff Writer

Mike Basham finished last for the fourth time in his ARCA Menards Series career in Saturday’s Zinsser SmartCoat 200 at Berlin Raceway when his #11 Ford retired with handling issues after completing 11 of the race’s 200 laps.

The finish came in Basham’s 85th series start, and was his first since the Michigan International Speedway race in 2020, nineteen races ago.

Since he was last featured here, Basham ran the entirety of the back half of the 2020 ARCA season for Fast Track Racing. It was a revelation of sorts for the Clarksville, Indiana driver, scoring three top-ten finishes and failing to finish only two races after his last-place outing at Michigan. Included in the late-season tear was a then-career-best seventh at Winchester Speedway in September and then another career-best, this time a sixth-place finish at the Springfield dirt mile in October. However, with multiple drivers such as D.L. Wilson and Tony Cosentino either entering the Fast Track fold or increasing their schedules, Basham’s name was not called upon until Saturday at Berlin, the midway point of the season.

The entry list totaled sixteen cars, and like its other Upper Midwest races, Madison and Elko, few surprise entrants showed up. Jesse Love and Gracie Trotter continued their partial seasons in Venturini Motorsports entries, and Daniel Dye took the wheel for his second race of the GMS Racing #21 machine, which he will run full-time for the rest of the year. Alex Clubb ran again for his co-owned team, and Fast Track Racing filled out their four cars with Tony Cosentino, Owen Smith, Mike Basham and Mason Mingus, who made a return to the team after his spectacular run at Nashville, where he captured the pole in the ARCA East.

There were also two series debuts in the field. Morgan Alexander, a former dirt late model driver from Georgia, made his first national start after making his ARCA East debut earlier this season. At Berlin, he ran with Hype Motorsports, a team affiliated with NASCAR Truck Series outfit Niece Motorsports. He drove an old Mason Mitchell Motorsports car that the team’s namesake took to victory lane at Berlin in 2014. The other debut was Zachary Tinkle, a CRA super late model driver from Speedway, Indiana. Tinkle’s father tragically passed away earlier this year, and he has kept pushing on with his career, making the jump up to full-bodied stock cars after he met team owner Wayne Peterson at Charlotte. Adam Lemke was also originally scheduled to make another start for Rette Jones Racing, but the entry did not make it to the track.

Practice was a fairly uniform event for the field, with five cars in the 16-second bracket, six cars in the 17-second range, and five in the 18-second region. Brad Smith at an 18.8 was the slowest car on the track, clocking in just about two tenths of a second behind Cosentino. Qualifying was a different story as the majority of the field made their way under 17 seconds. Dye was the only driver to qualify under 16.5 seconds, and Brad Smith was just over 2 seconds behind the 21 car, clocking a lap of 18.6 seconds.

There were no tail-end penalties, and it was a very uniform 16-car grid from the front to the back at the start finish line. By turn three of the opening lap, however, Cosentino had cleared Smith for last. The 48 held the position until the leaders came around, lapping the 48 machine around Lap 8. Basham only entered the last-place picture on Lap 13, when he was shown going very slow on the apron in Turn 1, perhaps in preparation to go to pit road. He took last from Smith the following lap, and was listed as out on Lap 16, sealing the last-place fate.

Cosentino followed his Fast Track teammate to the garage a mere three laps later, also citing handling problems. Brad Smith retired after 25 laps, and despite hinting on social media that handling was also his demise, the official listed reason was brake problems. After a stint in the garage or two during the race, Zachary Tinkle finished thirteenth, 60 laps down under power. Thad Moffitt rounded out the Bottom Five, victim of a power steering issue that resulted from contact with Gracie Trotter.

At the halfway point of the season, all three LASTCAR championships are still wide open. Chevrolet holds a one-race lead over Ford in the manufacturer standings, and Fast Track Racing holds a one-race lead over Young’s Motorsports in the owner standings. No driver has recorded more than one last-place finish so far this season.

16) #01-Mike Basham / 11 laps / handling
15) #12-Tony Cosentino / 14 laps / handling
14) #48-Brad Smith / 25 laps / brakes
13) #06-Zachary Tinkle / 141 laps / running
12) #46-Thad Moffitt / 156 laps / power steering

1st) Chevrolet (5)
2nd) Ford (4)
3rd) Toyota (1)

1st) Fast Track Racing (3)
2nd) Young’s Motorsports (2)
3rd) Brad Smith Motorsports, Greg Van Alst Motorsports, Kimmel Racing, Rette Jones Racing, Wayne Peterson Racing (1)


Sunday, July 18, 2021

CUP: Missed call during sudden rainstorm hands Kyle Busch second-straight Loudon last-place finish

PHOTO: @bobpockrass

Kyle Busch picked up the 8th last-place finish of his NASCAR Cup Series career in Sunday’s Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway when his #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota fell out in a crash after 8 of 293 laps.

The finish, which came in Busch’s 592nd series start, was his first of the season and first since this same race last year on August 2, 2020, 38 races ago. In the Cup Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 35th for the #18, the 170th for Toyota, and the 616th from a crash. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 48th for the #18, the 359th for Toyota, and the 1,264th from a crash.

Kyle Busch entered the New Hampshire weekend riding a wave of momentum. While he’d scored an early victory in Kansas, he’d struggled with consistency until the inaugural Circuit of the Americas weekend, where he won the XFINITY race and nearly scored Sunday’s win until he pitted just before heavy rain cut the race short. He finished 10th that day, and other than an 11th at Nashville had finished inside the Top 10 in every race since. Included in this streak was a second win at Pocono, where he overcame a failing transmission to outduel teammate Denny Hamlin for a fuel-mileage victory.

Last week in Atlanta, however, was tinged with controversy and frustration. The XFINITY race was set to be his 362nd and last as a driver, having already scored his 100th – and 101st – series victories at Nashville and Road America. In the Atlanta race’s final moments, Busch’s teammate Daniel Hemric appeared set to score his first career XFINITY victory. But a late-race restart and contact from Busch entering Turn 1 sent Hemric into the wall, handing Busch the win. Teammates also played a role on Sunday, where brother Kurt Busch snatched away the victory after Kurt’s teammate Ross Chastain held up then-leader Kyle with 25 laps remaining. While Kyle finished 2nd that day, he’d still take the pole for Loudon under metric qualifying.

Taking the 37th and final starting spot was James Davison in Rick Ware Racing’s #15 Project 44 Chevrolet. He’d be joined at the back by five other drivers due to pre-race penalties. Four were due to inspection failures: 25th-place Ryan Preece in the #37 Health Choice Power Bowls Chevrolet, 26th-place Corey LaJoie in the #7 Nations Guard Chevrolet, 32nd-place B.J. McLeod in the #78 Motorsport Games Ford, and 36th-place Quin Houff in the #00 Permatex Chevrolet. Bubba Wallace also surrendered 18th after his team had to change a malfunctioning digital dash on his #23 McDonald’s Toyota.

When the race started, Davison soon re-established himself in last place, and was gradually losing touch with the pack. He wouldn’t hold the spot for long. Heavy rains fell immediately following Saturday’s XFINITY race, which continued well into race morning. The rain let up just enough to start the race on time, but there was already a mist in the air at the green flag. By Lap 7, Kyle Busch was still leading teammate Martin Truex, Jr. in the #19 Reser’s Toyota, but each were slipping in the corners as rain intensified. The next time by, first Busch spun, followed immediately by Truex and still another JGR car in Denny Hamlin’s #11 FedEx Toyota. Hamlin avoided the wall, but both Busch and Truex backed into the fence with the rear and left-front corners of their cars.

Martin Truex, Jr. on pit road for repairs
in front of the garage entrance where
Kyle Busch's car was pushed to the hauler.
PHOTO: No Tires Just Gas on YouTube

Under the ensuing rain-soaked caution, Truex first took last from Davison as he made it to pit road for repairs. Kyle Busch dropped the window net and bumped the pace car before he, too, pulled in. The team soon discovered Busch’s damage was too severe to continue, much to the frustration of the #18 crew. Around 15 minutes after NASCAR threw the red flag, with the track now soaked, Busch’s crew pushed the #18 behind the wall and loaded it up on the hauler. At the time, Truex’s car was still in its pit stall. It wasn’t until after the conclusion of a 1 hour, 41-minute delay that Truex finally dropped Busch to last on Lap 10. 

If Truex had climbed no higher, it would have marked the first time since July 25, 1958 that the polesitter finished last with the runner-up next-to-last. On that day at the Monroe County Fairgrounds, Rex White won the pole and finished last after 10 laps with overheating problems, followed 35 laps later by outside-polesitter Shorty Rollins’ burned piston. White didn't even lead a lap in the race as Rollins took the lead at the start, then dropped out while leading his 17th of the first 45 laps. Instead, Truex cleared the “Crash Clock” with just a few seconds remaining stayed on the lead lap, and managed to finish 12th.

With the finish, Busch ended JTG-Daugherty's last-place streak at three in a row, just as he had in 2020, when he ended the team's streak of four in a row. Of the JTG group, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. finished 15th on Sunday with teammate Ryan Preece, Saturday's Modified Series winner, in 22nd.

Taking 36th was last-place starter James Davison, whose clutch failed after 40 laps, sending him behind the wall not long after teammate Cody Ware spun his #51 Nurtec ODT Chevrolet. Quin Houff’s #00 Permatex Chevrolet was bumped by Ryan Newman entering Turn 3, sending him into the outside wall. Houff continued on for around 50 more laps before he dropped out of the race, finishing 35th. Rounding out the Bottom Five were Rick Ware teammates Josh Bilicki in the #52 Rich Mar Florist / Mayhew Tools Ford and Garrett Smithley in the #53 Clubhouse Media Group Chevrolet, 13 and 10 laps down, respectively.

The victory went to a surprising Aric Almirola, who both came into the race as the 2021 LASTCAR Cup Series leader and remains so with three last-place runs this season. This marked Almirola’s third series victory in 374 Cup starts, his first on a non-superspeedway, and punched his ticket into this year’s Playoffs.

*Busch is the first driver to both lead laps in a Cup race at New Hampshire and finish last in the same event.
*Busch is also the first driver to finish last in back-to-back Cup races at New Hampshire.

37) #18-Kyle Busch / 8 laps / crash / led 8 laps
36) #15-James Davison / 40 laps / clutch
35) #00-Quin Houff / 187 laps / crash
34) #52-Josh Bilicki / 280 laps / running
33) #53-Garrett Smithley / 283 laps / running

1st) JTG-Daugherty Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing (4)
2nd) Spire Motorsports (3)
3rd) Chip Ganassi Racing, Motorsports Business Management, Rick Ware Racing (2)
4th) Front Row Motorsports, Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, StarCom Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (13)
2nd) Ford (6)
3rd) Toyota (3)


Saturday, July 17, 2021

XFINITY: Restart pileup eliminates Mason Massey at New Hampshire

PHOTO: @giver48

Mason Massey picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Saturday’s Ambetter Get Vaccinated 200 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway when his #99 Brunt Workwear Chevrolet fell out with crash damage after 26 of 200 laps.

The finish came in Massey’s 15th series start. In the XFINITY Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 15th for the #99, the 353rd from a crash, and the 574th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 36th for the #99, the 1,263rd from a crash, and the 1,796th for Chevrolet.

Last summer at Bristol, Massey was set to make his fourth series start with the same #99 team fielded by B.J. McLeod Motorsports. But at the command, his car wouldn’t fire, and a push from a truck couldn’t get his car started. He ended up missing the green flag and spent the first 184 laps in the garage area. Only then did the car finally start, and he climbed from 37th to 30th at the checkered flag (LINK). By season’s end, Massey had ten career XFINITY starts and had not failed to finish any of them. He even matched his season-best 21st at Charlotte in the second race of the double-header in Richmond.

Massey continued this streak without a DNF into Saturday’s race in Loudon, which would be his fifth start of 2021. Two of those starts had already been lead-lap finishes – a 27th at Talladega, and a 29th just last week in Atlanta. This attracted the attention of Brunt Workwear, a brand that debuted just ten months ago, which joined Massey as sponsor on Thursday. “Mason brings a tough-as-nails, underdog approach to the track that mirrors the values we hold here at BRUNT,” the company tweeted. “We’re super excited to have had the opportunity to partner, and cannot wait until race-day!” The McLeod team also produced hero cards of Massey’s car on a Toyota Supra, though he would run a Chevrolet Camaro in the race. Massey would roll off 29th.

Drawing the 40th and final starting spot was Spencer Boyd, who was making his first XFINITY start since 2018. This time, his ride was Jimmy Means Racing’s #52 Chevrolet, which carried new sponsorship from Freedom Warranty. While Tommy Joe Martins’ #44 AAN Adjusters Chevrolet twice failed pre-race inspection, he did not incur a tail-end penalty, and would retain his 17th-place starting spot. Boyd retained the last spot at the start, and was 24.472 seconds back of the lead after 12 laps. On Lap 20, just moments before the competition caution, Boyd was within sight of 39th-place C.J. McLaughlin in the #61 Sci Aps Toyota. But by then, both had been lapped going into Turn 3, and McLaughlin edged Boyd for the Lucky Dog on the ensuing caution.

Massey's car before the race.
PHOTO: @TeamBJMcLeod

On the restart, trouble broke out near the front of the inside lane. When the leaders rolled slowly to the starting line, 15th-place Sam Mayer’s #8 JR Motorsports Chevrolet rear-ended Brandon Jones’ #19 Menards / Jeld-Wen Toyota, which shunted Riley Herbst’s #98 Monster Energy Ford. Herbst cut left to avoid rear-ending Brett Moffitt’s #02 Robert B. Our Co. Chevrolet, only for Herbst to be spun by Jones into the inside wall. Further back, Mason Massey was running in the outside lane with the unsponsored black #78 Toyota of Jesse Little in front of him. When Little slowed, Massey got in the back of him, damaging the nose of his own car. 

Massey joined Mayer, Jones, and Herbst on pit road as Spencer Boyd earned the Lucky Dog. Massey was the first to take last from Boyd on Lap 28, and Mayer fell to 39th as both Herbst and Jones got back to the track first. On Lap 31, Mayer pulled his car behind the wall, knocking him out of the race under the Damaged Vehicle Policy. Three laps later, Massey’s car was in the garage, where the crew said the upper portion of the radiator was damaged. While Massey was just two laps back of Mayer, he too was done for the day. Jones pulled behind the wall after completing 63 laps to take 38th while Herbst recovered nicely to finish 10th.

Finishing 37th was C.J. McLaughlin, who reported sparks inside his car when he dropped out in the final laps. Alex Labbe made at least three trips to the garage area, and had just returned to the track after McLaughlin’s exit to close his two-lap deficit to the #61. Labbe’s #36 Prolon / Rousseau / Silver Wax Chevrolet finished 36th, 26 laps down.

Brandon Gdovic reunited with Sam Hunt Racing on Saturday and in the #26 Toyota finished on the lead lap in 16th, his best run since his career-best 8th in this year’s Daytona opener. 

Kyle Weatherman slid into Tommy Joe Martins in the early laps, putting both drivers into the outside wall, but Weatherman recovered to finish 19th – his best run since he took 16th on the Daytona Road Course. Weatherman did so in the same car that locked into gear in last week’s Atlanta race, after which he and the team had to rebuild the damaged right-rear corner on his #47 Axe Crossbows Chevrolet. Martins also recovered nicely, taking 21st.

David Starr welcomed new sponsorship from Vodkyte on his #66 Toyota and finished 20th, his best run since he also finished 20th in Texas, four races ago.

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #99 in a XFINITY Series race at Loudon.

40) #99-Mason Massey / 26 laps / crash
39) #8-Sam Mayer / 28 laps / crash
38) #19-Brandon Jones / 64 laps / radiator
37) #61-C.J. McLaughlin / 164 laps / electrical
36) #36-Alex Labbe / 174 laps / running

1st) B.J. McLeod Motorsports (4)
2nd) DGM Racing, JD Motorsports, JR Motorsports, Mike Harmon Racing, Motorsports Business Management, RSS Racing / Reaume Brothers Racing (2)
3rd) Our Motorsports, Sam Hunt Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (13)
2nd) Toyota (5)
3rd) Ford (1)


Thursday, July 15, 2021

PREVIEW: Emerling, Bell, and Boyd return after one, two, and three-year absences from XFINITY Series in Loudon

Dawson Cram will make his XFINITY debut this Saturday.
PHOTO: @dawsoncram41

Saturday, July 17, 2021 
XFINITY Race 19 of 33
Ambetter Get Vaccinated 200 at Loudon
2019 Last-Place Finisher: Carl Long

There are 41 drivers entered for 40 spots in Saturday’s first XFINITY race at “The Magic Mile” in two years. Once again, MBM’s #13 team is on the wrong side of the cut line and will not start (see below).

DRIVER SWAP: #1-JR Motorsports
DRIVER CHANGE: #31-Jordan Anderson Racing
An MRI revealed Michael Annett suffered a stress fracture in his right femur, which occurred while exercising in the lead-up to last week’s races. After handing the wheel to Chris Windom in the Truck Series race at Knoxville, then Austin Dillon in XFINITY at Atlanta, Annett will not race this weekend, and hopes to return following the two-week break in Watkins Glen. Annett has since received a Playoff waiver. This Saturday, the omnipresent Josh Berry will take the wheel of Annett’s ride, moving over from the #31 he steered to a 23rd-place finish in Atlanta following a spin. Berry’s move allows Jordan Anderson to run his own car for the first time since Texas, where he and Bayley Currey both missed the start due to different mechanical issues.

DRIVER CHANGE / DID NOT QUALIFY: #13-Motorsports Business Management
Chad Finchum was swapped in for Timmy Hill in MBM’s #13 entry, but due to metric qualifying, Finchum will not make his first XFINITY start since his season-best 15th-place run in Charlotte.

DRIVER CHANGE: #17-Rick Ware Racing / SS-Green Light Racing
The RWR entry switches from Chevrolet to Ford this week, and J.J. Yeley will pilot the Nurtec ODT car in place of Carson Ware, who was 36th following a late-race crash in Atlanta. This will be Yeley’s seventh series start in 2021 and first since Nashville, where he ran 22nd in SS-Green Light’s own #07.

DRIVER CHANGE: #23-Our Motorsports
Whelen Modified Tour point leader Patrick Emerling reunites with Our Motorsports this week. When we last saw Emerling in the series, it was last summer at Bristol, where contact from Matt Mills sent his #02 Chevrolet into the outside wall. Emerling’s series debut resulted in a 29th-place finish. Since then, Chris Our’s team has improved by leaps and bounds. He runs Our’s second car, the #23, with sponsorship from Spirit Snorkeling and Captain Pip's. He takes the place of Ty Dillon, who ran an impressive 5th at Atlanta – one spot ahead of Brett Moffitt in the team’s primary #02.

DRIVER CHANGE: #26-Sam Hunt Racing
Santino Ferrucci’s streak of consecutive top-15 finishes ended in Atlanta, where he only managed 33rd in the #26 Toyota. This week, Brandon Gdovic returns for his fifth start of the season and first since Texas, running a new-look version of his paint scheme. Gdovic’s season-best finish remains his 8th-place run in this year’s opener in Daytona.

DRIVER CHANGE: #52-Jimmy Means Racing
For the second time since Pocono, Jimmy Means Racing has brought on another driver to take the place of full-timer Gray Gaulding. This time, it’s Spencer Boyd, who hasn’t started an XFINITY race since the end of his own full-time season with SS-Green Light Racing in 2018. Boyd brings with him sponsorship from Freedom Warranty.

DRIVER CHANGE: #54-Joe Gibbs Racing
Last week in Atlanta, Kyle Busch ran the last XFINITY race of the season – and maybe for his career – taking a controversial 102nd series victory after contact with Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Daniel Hemric. The car will still be driven by a Cup Series regular in Busch’s Cup teammate Christopher Bell. Like Spencer Boyd, Bell hasn’t run a XFINITY race since the end of his last full season in 2019, where his eight-win campaign ended just short of a championship. DeWalt joins him as sponsor.

DRIVER SWAP: #61-Motorsports Business Management
DRIVER SWAP: #66-Motorsports Business Management
After David Starr drove in relief of an exhausted C.J. McLaughlin in Atlanta, the two have now swapped rides. Starr will take the green in the #66 while McLaughlin will run the #61. While McLaughlin runs his familiar Sci Aps colors, Starr carries sponsorship from Caron Towing & Repair on his Toyota.

DRIVER CHANGE: #74-Mike Harmon Racing
While Bayley Currey was again the listed driver for his familiar #74 Chevrolet, Dawson Cram revealed on Wednesday that he would be making his XFINITY debut in that car this Saturday, carrying sponsorship from Crafty One Customs. Cram, who started his own Truck Series team last season, has 26 starts in the series with a best finish of 13th at Martinsville in 2019.

Dexter Bean returns to the Gosselin team for his fifth start of the season and first since the March race in Atlanta. As in his four previous starts, he’ll run DGM’s #90 Chevrolet. He takes the place of Ronnie Bassett, Jr., who finished 27th in last week’s return to Atlanta.

CUP INVADERS: #54-Christopher Bell

Sunday, July 18, 2021
CUP Race 22 of 36
Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at Loudon
2020 Last-Place Finisher: Kyle Busch

There are 37 drivers entered for 40 spots in Sunday’s race, marking the 17th short field in 22 races this season. The 37 starters ties the fewest ever for a Cup race here along with July 22, 2018 and July 21, 2019.

DRIVER CHANGE: #15-Rick Ware Racing
On top of handing his XFINITY ride to Dawson Cram, Bayley Currey will not run Cup this Sunday as James Davison returns to the #15 for the first time since his 28th-place showing in Road America. This will be only the second Cup start at Loudon for Davison, following a 30th-place showing in Rick Ware’s #53 last summer.

MISSING: #66-Motorsports Business Management
For the second-straight week, Timmy Hill is not among the drivers running this weekend. His Cup ride, MBM’s #66, is not entered after it was withdrawn from Atlanta.

Saturday, August 7, 2021
TRUCKS Race 15 of 22
United Rentals 176 at The Glen (72 laps)
2000 Last-Place Finisher (62 laps): Ryan McGlynn

The Truck Series returns after the Olympics break for their first race at Watkins Glen in over two decades.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (July 15, 1989): Max Prestwood picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series in the Coors 200 at South Boston when his #41 Custom Veneers Oldsmobile overheated after 46 laps. Prestwood dropped out just two laps before Dale Earnhardt also fell out for the same issue.

Monday, July 12, 2021

SRX: Penultimate-lap melee at Slinger drops Michael Waltrip to last

ALL PHOTOS: William Soquet

by William Soquet Staff Writer

Michael Waltrip finished last for the first time in his Superstar Racing Experience career in Saturday’s event at the Slinger Super Speedway when his #15 Progressive Insurance car retired with crash damage after completing 148 of the race’s 150 laps.

The finish came in Waltrip’s fifth career start. Across series history, it was the first for car number 15 and the second for crew chief Jeff Hammond.

After finishing out his NASCAR Cup Series career in the 2017 Daytona 500, Michael Waltrip has still found the limelight. He's continued as a broadcaster for FOX Sports as both a Cup pre-race analyst and a Truck Series in-race commentator. He also launched his own brewing company, focusing on ales and lagers. He was announced as a driver for the Superstar Racing Experience in February 2021.

The personnel lineup for Slinger was in flux for perhaps the longest time of any event this season. Hailie Deegan stepped in as a sub for Tony Kanaan, who had racing duties in Brazil for the weekend. Famed Wisconsin short-track racer and 1999 Craftsman Truck Series Rookie of the Year Scott Hansen was brought on as the ringer crew chief. However, the driver that filled the ringer car was not known until late Tuesday night.

That was because the car went to the winner of the Slinger Nationals, an annual super late model event held the first Tuesday in July. The 17-year-old Luke Fenhaus, a rising senior at Wausau East High School in Wausau, Wisconsin, won the race with a late bump-and-run over NASCAR Truck Series driver Derek Kraus and, after initially waffling on it post-race, accepted the invite to race in the SRX event. Fenhaus’ family team is chasing the points championship in the ARCA Midwest Tour, and while that series had an event scheduled at Grundy County Speedway in Illinois on Saturday night, Fenhaus chose to run with the SRX drivers at Slinger. (The Midwest Tour race was later rained out in a stroke of luck for Fenhaus’ championship bid.)

Practice lasted for three hours on Saturday morning, and Fenhaus paced all drivers with a lap of 11.785 seconds around the quarter-mile bullring. Bill Elliott brought up the rear of the practice charts, clocking a best lap of just over 12.5 seconds.

Greg Biffle drew last place for the beginning of Heat 1, but he didn’t stay there for long. Entering Turn 3 on the opening lap, he got a nose out in front of Waltrip, who started 11th, and completed the pass at the end of the front straightaway. Within the opening minute, Biffle also moved past Willy T. Ribbs for tenth place. The field then sorted themselves into a mostly single-file appearance, and despite being the only driver besides Fenhaus to ever have made laps at Slinger before Saturday, Waltrip couldn’t find an opening to move past the 17 car until the commercial-break caution midway through Heat 1.

On the ensuing restart, Waltrip got a good jump to the outside of Ribbs but was unable to make a clear pass for the first couple of laps. He had just cleared Ribbs in turn one a couple of laps in when Ernie Francis Jr., who had been driving very defensively all race long, decided to go on offense and run the apron in to turn one in order to punt Paul Tracy. Tracy looped it in turn two, brought out the caution, and then proceeded to door Francis during the caution. On the ensuing restart, Tracy discovered that he had cut a tire when he doored Francis, and drew another caution when his car went straight and slowed. He retired for the heat with two laps to go.

Perhaps because of finishing laps down in the previous heat or perhaps because series officials deemed his actions as something they didn’t want to see more of, Tracy was denied the Heat 2 pole position usually awarded to the last-place finisher of Heat 1. That left Ribbs and Elliott as the front row. Marco Andretti, who more or less dusted the field in Heat 1, lined up 11th, with Tracy to his outside in 12th. The two split Fenhaus, who struggled to come up to speed on the restart, and Andretti cleared him by the end of the first lap, dropping the patriotically-painted car to last, a nose behind Tracy. On the second lap, however, Ribbs spun by himself from the third position, dropping the 17 to last.

Fenhaus immediately cleared Ribbs on the restart and set sail, destined for a top-five finish by the time the heat ended. In turns three and four, Waltrip washed up the track and Greg Biffle darted by. Helio Castroneves tried to do the same thing on the frontstretch, but found Waltrip’s back bumper instead. The impact was forceful enough that it caved in the rear wing on Waltrip’s car and created a tire rub. He parked on track to cause a caution, then pulled in to the pits, where he was promptly interviewed by Matt Yocum. While Waltrip touted his car’s long-run speed, that would be the end of his heat race.

Despite the track public address saying that the finishing order of the second heat would be the starting lineup for the feature, the series did set the feature starting grid by average heat finish. Tracy, with an average finish of 11.5 in the heats, sat on the last row along with Waltrip, who averaged 10.5. Waltrip immediately cleared tenth-place driver Willy T. Ribbs, and Tracy dove inside as well on the opening start. Tracy gave Ribbs a good nudge in the door panel through turns one and two of the opening lap, and Ribbs responded by running Tracy down to the grass in turns three and four, setting the stage for what could potentially be a short race for one or both of those drivers.

However, after the opening skirmish, Tracy settled his lime green machine in behind Ribbs and stayed single-file until Lap 18, when both Ribbs and Tracy passed Elliott in the same lap. The 9 car struggled for pace at times in the opening portion of the feature event. It took until about Lap 80 for Elliott to make a successful move on Ribbs, who admitted that he had never seen, much less raced, on a track like Slinger in his racing career. Waltrip suffered a flat tire on Lap 105 and drew a caution, taking over 12th position. The ensuing restart featured multiple fireworks between Tracy, Francis and Deegan, but it also featured Waltrip overtaking Elliott and dropping the 9 car to another stint at the rear.

Paul Tracy's damaged car after the race.

On the Lap 138 restart, Biffle spun Castroneves in turn one and both were sent to the rear, bumping Elliott to tenth. Biffle made it by the 9 car fairly quickly, but Castroneves took more time, advancing past Elliott on Lap 143. Meanwhile, as Fenhaus took the white flag as the leader, Deegan turned Tracy in turn four, and the 13 car skidded to a stop in the middle of the track at the exit of turn four, collecting Waltrip, Ribbs and Castroneves. Waltrip’s and Tracy’s cars were terminally damaged, and since Waltrip was behind Tracy at the beginning of Lap 148, he was classified last in the race. Castroneves rounded out the Bottom Three after a rough end to the race as the last car running.

When the author made it down to the pit area a handful of minutes after the conclusion of the race, Waltrip’s car was still being looked over by a few series workers and the driver himself was nowhere within sight. Tracy was already in a t-shirt and shorts, signing autographs for fans who recognized him when he wasn’t wearing a firesuit. His car sat all alone, resting at the end of the backstretch pit lane. After a public Instagram exchange between the two drivers, Deegan later revealed that she and Tracy had a conversation in one of the series motorhomes after the race.

12) #15-Michael Waltrip / 148 laps / crash
11) #13-Paul Tracy / 148 laps / crash
10) #3-Helio Castroneves / 150 laps / running

1st) Jeff Hammond (2)
2nd) Mike Christopher, Keith Kunz, Todd Parrott (2)


ARCA: Wayne Peterson makes first start of 2021 season


by William Soquet Staff Writer

Wayne Peterson finished last for the 48th time in his ARCA Menards Series career in Saturday’s Menards 250 at Elko Speedway when his #06 Ford finished early with brake problems after completing 1 of the race’s 250 laps.

The finish came in Peterson’s 117th career series start and was his first since Springfield in 2020, 10 races ago.

Since the end of the 2020 season, Wayne Peterson and his team have scaled down their operation following the departure of Tim Richmond to Richmond-Clubb Motorsports. Longtime driver Con Nicolopoulos took driving duties at the superspeedways, and Don Thompson took over the reins at Pocono. The team ran a full-race effort for A.J. Moyer at Toledo and grabbed a top-ten finish before late withdrawals at Charlotte and Mid-Ohio. Elko marked Peterson’s first time taking the wheel of his team’s car, extending his long career to the age of 83.

After the withdrawal of Eric Caudell, sixteen other cars joined Peterson on the entry list. Of note, Daniel Dye showed up in the first race of his new agreement with GMS Racing, and Alex Clubb took over the wheel of the Richmond-Clubb Motorsports car. Taylor Gray returned to racing for the first time since a passenger car accident earlier in the spring, and Adam Lemke made a rescheduled series debut with Rette Jones Racing after not making it to the Toledo race. Fast Track Racing filled its entries with North Dakota hot shoe Bryce Haugeberg, back for the first time since Phoenix, Owen Smith, and Dick Doheny. The fourth Fast Track entry was a Fast Track entry on paper, but in reality it was a Mullins Racing entry, as Willie Mullins prepped and drove the car but Fast Track hauled the car to the track and serviced the car during the race. One driver made his series debut. Ron Vandermeir Jr. of Sheridan, Illinois brought his own #66 car to the track for his first ARCA race. Vandermeir is a veteran of the Mid-American Stock Car Series and has won three championships in the regional tour.

In the series practice session, Ty Gibbs led the field with a lap of just over 14.5 seconds. Brad Smith was slowest of the drivers to get a full-speed lap it, clocking in at 16.5 seconds, but Peterson did take one lap of his own, coming across the line in just over 23 seconds. Qualifying was much of the same story with Gibbs at the front and Smith the slowest car to take a lap. Peterson did not take a lap but still made the field as there were not enough entries to send anybody home.

At the start of the race, Peterson took the green flag with the field, as there were no tail-end penalties. However, when the leaders came around for Lap 3, Peterson slowed to a crawl in Turns 1 and 2 and was extremely close to the groove at the exit of the second corner, almost getting brushed by Ty Gibbs as the leader roared by to the outside. The NBC cameras panned to Peterson for a few moments as he pulled in to the track’s unique backstretch pit road entrance, done for the night. Owen Smith and Doheny also retired within the first ten laps, and Brad Smith completed just over 50 laps before his race ended. Haugeberg rounded out the Bottom Five, the victim of a transmission issue with just a few laps left in the race.

17) #06-Wayne Peterson / 1 lap / brakes
16) #01-Owen Smith / 6 laps / clutch
15) #12-Dick Doheny / 8 laps / vibration
14) #48-Brad Smith / 54 laps / unknown
13) #11-Bryce Haugeberg / 229 laps / transmission

1st) Chevrolet (5)
2nd) Ford (3)
3rd) Toyota (1)

1st) Fast Track Racing, Young’s Motorsports (2)
2nd) Brad Smith Motorsports, Greg Van Alst Motorsports, Kimmel Racing, Rette Jones Racing, Wayne Peterson Racing (1)


Sunday, July 11, 2021

CUP: Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. exits race with two laps to go after repairs following early crash


Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. picked up the 11th last-place finish of his NASCAR Cup Series career in Sunday’s Quaker State 400 presented by Walmart at the Atlanta Motor Speedway when his #47 NOS Energy Drink Chevrolet fell out with suspension issues after 178 of 260 laps.

The finish, which came in Stenhouse’s 313th series start, was his third of the year and first since Pocono, two races ago. In the Cup Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 11th from suspension problems, the 36th for the #47, and the 811th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 46th for suspension issues, the 54th for the #47, and the 1,795th for Chevrolet.

Exactly one year ago this month, Stenhouse and his JTG-Daugherty Racing teammate Ryan Preece combined to score four consecutive Cup Series last-place finishes, tying a record set by PRISM Motorsports’ drivers Dave Blaney and Michael McDowell in April 2010. This year, following Stenhouse’s most recent last-place finish in the second round of the Pocono double-header, Preece lost an engine in the early laps at Road America while Stenhouse managed a solid 12th.

Heading into Atlanta, where Stenhouse carried sponsorship from NOS Energy Drink for the first time since Talladega, the #47 was set to roll off 16th with Preece in 34th.

Following the withdrawal of Timmy Hill’s #66 Toyota for Motorsports Business Management, the 37th and final starting spot fell to Garrett Smithley in Rick Ware Racing’s #53 Seed Token Chevrolet. Martin Truex, Jr. had been slated to start 5th in the #19 Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota before his car twice failed inspection, dropping him to the rear of the field. When the green flag dropped, Truex was ahead of Smithley, who ran by himself in the 37th spot. After three laps, Truex had already climbed to 30th.

On Lap 12, Smithley was fighting a tight condition as his car hit the splitter, but still managed to catch and pass the #00 8 Ball Chocolate Whiskey Chevrolet of Quin Houff. Two laps later, Houff caught Smithley’s teammate Josh Bilicki in the #52 Junction Fuels Ford, whose spotter was already watching for the leaders to catch him. Bilicki became the first driver lapped on the 19th circuit, and under the competition caution on Lap 25 called for more rear stability as he was “plowing tight.” The #52 crew would ultimately bring him in for four tires, fuel, and three rounds out of the track bar. Bilicki and Smithley traded the spot under yellow before Bilicki took it on the Lap 30 restart.

On Lap 32, Bilicki was still running in last when the spotter warned “trying to wreck in front of you – wrecking, wrecking---” At that moment, Cody Ware in still another RWR entry was attempting a pass to the inside in his #51 Nurtec ODT Chevrolet. This put Ware on the bottom of a four-wide formation below Anthony Alfredo in the #38 Georgia Peanuts Ford, Stenhouse, and the #99 Good Sam – Autism Awareness Chevrolet. Ware skated sideways into Alfredo, who clipped the left-rear corner of Stenhouse’s car as Suarez passed to Stenhouse’s outside. Stenhouse and Suarez then spun into the inside wall, and Alfredo successfully weaved his way past them both. 

While Ware stayed out of the wall and continued on, both Suarez and Stenhouse nosed into the inside wall with Suarez slapping the fence with the driver’s side. Both made it to pit road, where Stenhouse took last from Bilicki on Lap 32. After shutting down and re-firing the engine at least two times, Stenhouse returned to the track with three minutes left on the “Crash Clock.” Suarez returned with 45 seconds remaining on his, but managed to remain ahead of Stenhouse. On Lap 36, Suarez cleared the Clock, followed by Stenhouse soon after. Suarez remained on the track while Stenhouse was now clear to go to the garage for repairs around Lap 41.

There was little radio traffic on Stenhouse’s channel until Lap 86, when the crew relayed that they “fixed the toe,” and that the left-front splitter had been removed. The car re-fired on Lap 100 and returned to action a full 65 laps down, 54 laps behind the damaged Suarez. The repaired car was first seen on the NBCSN broadcast on Lap 108. The team advised their driver that they would tell him if he was within a half-second of minimum speed. “It doesn’t turn, obviously,” said Stenhouse on Lap 161. Stenhouse’s car also happened to be sitting directly behind the pace car when the red flag came out for track repairs entering the quad-oval.

When the race restarted on Lap 171, Stenhouse was 73 laps down, and on the verge of locking-up last place before the race ended. By Lap 204, he was 60 laps behind a still 36th-place Suarez with just 57 laps to go. Stenhouse appeared headed to complete the full distance, but entering Turn 3 coming to two laps to go, he dropped to the apron and pulled out of the race. Suspension issues were the listed cause. He dropped out 79 laps down, and was credited 82 laps down in the final results.

Suarez, too, climbed no higher than 36th after the crash, though he remained within 17 laps of the leader. Houff and Bilicki were five laps ahead of Suarez with Ware rounding out the Bottom Five. Ware was five laps ahead of Bilicki and on the same lap as both Smithley and the fourth RWR entry of Bayley Currey in the #15 Fort Worth Screen Printing Chevrolet.

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #47 in a Cup race at Atlanta.

37) #47-Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. / 178 laps / suspension
36) #99-Daniel Suarez / 243 laps / running
35) #00-Quin Houff / 248 laps / running
34) #52-Josh Bilicki / 248 laps / running
33) #51-Cody Ware / 253 laps / running
1st) JTG-Daugherty Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing (4)
2nd) Spire Motorsports (3)
3rd) Chip Ganassi Racing, Motorsports Business Management, Rick Ware Racing (2)
4th) Front Row Motorsports, Hendrick Motorsports, StarCom Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (13)
2nd) Ford (6)
3rd) Toyota (2)


Saturday, July 10, 2021

XFINITY: David Starr crashes out early, then relieves teammate McLaughlin in Atlanta

PHOTO: Dominic Aragon,

David Starr picked up the 4th last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Saturday’s Credit Karma Money 250 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway when his #61 Whataburger Toyota was eliminated in a crash after 50 of 164 laps.

The finish, which came in Starr’s 222nd series start, was his second of the year and first since Dover, 8 races ago. In the XFINITY Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 19th for the #61, the 149th for Toyota, and the 352nd from a crash. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 31st for the #61, the 358th for Toyota, and the 1,262nd from a crash.

The run also put Starr into the lead for the 2021 LASTCAR XFINITY Series Championship, moving ahead of Bayley Currey on a bottom-five tiebreaker.

After he was last featured here for Dover, Starr has continued his part-time effort with Motorsports Business Management, switching time between all three of the team’s entries. When Boris Said came out of retirement to attempt the following round on the Circuit of the Americas, Starr was left without a seat, and Said failed to qualify. This allowed both Jordan Anderson Racing and Dillon Racing to make their first starts of the season, putting MBM’s entries lower in points for the return to metric qualifying.

After COTA, Starr was the fastest to miss the cut in Charlotte, and when metric qualifying put his #13 out of the show in Mid-Ohio, he moved to the #61 and finished 36th. He ran the #66 for the next three rounds with a best of 20th at Texas, where he also brought back MBM’s second Cup car in a bid at the All-Star Open. After Matt Jaskol ran the #66 at Road America, only to end up the fastest to miss the show, Starr would return to the #61 for Atlanta, which also missed the cut with Boris Said. Starr rolled off 35th in his familiar bright orange Whataburger colors. Timmy Hill, slated to run the #13, was the only team sent home.

Rolling off 40th and last was the #52 Panini Chevrolet of Gray Gaulding, whose team owner Jimmy Means had been interviewed on the “Dale Jr. Download” earlier in the week. He’d be joined in the back by Austin Dillon, a last-minute driver substitution for Michael Annett in the #1 Pilot / Flying J Spicy Chicken Sandwich Chevrolet. This was the second substitution in as many days for Annett, who had cited a recurring leg injury for stepping out of the car. During the pace laps, Dillon came down pit road with one to go, having already incurred a tail-end penalty for the driver change. When he caught up to the outside line, Gaulding let him pull in front of him.

When the green flag dropped, the inside line trailed the pack, immediately handing last place to C.J. McLaughlin. McLaughlin was driving MBM’s #66 entry sponsored by SA Recycling and Sci Aps – a Ford this week – which had originally been set to start 34th. At the stripe, McLaughlin was more than 4 seconds back of the lead, and 9.09 back at the end of Lap 1. On Lap 5, McLaughlin caught and passed Carson Ware in the #17 Jacob Companies / Broke Girl Boutique Chevrolet. By Lap 7, when Ware dropped nearly 2 seconds back of McLaughlin, the team was encouraging Ware to pick up his speed. Ware found the speed and re-passed McLaughlin by Lap 9.

On Lap 11, McLaughlin’s engine sounded down a cylinder, and he came down pit road under green for a look under the hood. The crew pulled off some tape, but didn’t notice any issues and sent him back out on the 13th circuit. The next time by, the issue had returned, and the MBM crew told him to come in and go behind the wall. He did so on Lap 15, already four laps down, and the crew looked under the hood. The engine re-fired on the 20th lap, and he returned to action under caution.

This run didn’t last long, as by Lap 23, McLaughlin’s team called him to the garage a second time, this time having him pull up behind their hauler at the far end of the garage. The MBM team removed the air cleaner, discussing first the carburetor, then the valves. A plug wire was then found to be the issue, and he returned to the track on Lap 31, a full 17 laps back. Team owner Carl Long apologized that the wire issue wasn’t found at the shop, and said McLaughlin would be in “recovery mode” for the rest of the distance.

The near-collision with Carson Ware on pit road.
capture by David PeQueen @CarSDS2078

Starr, meanwhile, was running on the lead lap around 10 seconds back of the leader, and had passed Santino Ferrucci’s #26 Manatawny Still Works Toyota for position. Moments later, he was passing Matt Mills in the #5 J.F. Electric Chevrolet off Turn 4 with a pack of traffic not far behind them. Starr moved up as Jeffrey Earnhardt looked to his inside in the #0 Superstratum Chevrolet, but Starr wasn’t clear of Mills. The two made contact, hooking Starr’s right-front into the wall entering the quad-oval and pinching Mills in the fence. Both cars made it to pit road, but only Mills returned to the track. Starr’s crew removed the right-front fender, but the damage had already ended their day. 

Another close call followed moments later. As Starr pulled into the garage area, Carson Ware attempted to pass him to the left. Starr hit the brakes, narrowly avoiding Ware’s Chevrolet, then pulled into the garage, done for the day under the Damaged Vehicle Policy. On Lap 56, Mills met minimum speed, and on Lap 70, McLaughlin dropped Starr to last place. This wouldn’t be the last time the two teammates crossed paths. By Lap 119, McLaughlin was suffering from heat exhaustion, and came down pit road for a driver change. Starr climbed into the #66 and climbed to 37th, finishing on the same lap as the now-wrecked Carson Ware when the checkered flag dropped.

Starr's car after dropping out of the race.
PHOTO: Max Neuwirth @racingfan83

Landon Cassill was about to finish 39th after a broken shock mount on his #4 Voyager Chevrolet sent him behind the wall with 112 laps complete. He returned to action in the final laps to complete 18 more circuits by the checkered flag – more than enough to pass Brandon Jones, whose #19 Toyota wrecked off the nose of Ryan Sieg entering Turn 3. Jones ended up 39th, ten laps behind Cassill.

Further up the lineup, Ty Dillon earned his second-straight top-ten finish in the XFINITY Series in the #23 Our Motorsports entry, this time sponsored by Childress Vineyards. He finished 5th for a new season-best, improving on his 7th from Charlotte, and one spot ahead of teammate Brett Moffitt in the #02.

Jeremy Clements took 8th in his #51 All South Electric Chevrolet, bouncing back from a 28th in Road America with his first top-ten finish since Charlotte and fifth top-15 finish in the last seven races. The run keeps the owner-driver in Playoff contention entering these final weeks of the regular season.

David Starr (foreground) awaiting the
driver change.
PHOTO: Max Neuwirth @racingfan83

Taking home a much-needed 14th was the #6 MaintenX Chevrolet of Ryan Vargas, which was not only his fourth top-20 finish in the last six races, but a new season-best, improving on his 16th-place showing in Charlotte. Vargas tweeted after the race that he scored the finish on 20-plus-lap older tires than those he was racing.

Tommy Joe Martins continued his own streak with a 16th-place finish, marking his fifth-straight finish no worse than 21st following his next-to-last-place finish in Mid-Ohio. Martins’ #44 Diamond Gusset Jeans Chevrolet took the checkers 4.786 seconds back of the leader, and a half-second ahead of Jade Buford in the #48 Big Machine Spiked Coolers Chevrolet.

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #61 and David Starr in a XFINITY race at Atlanta.
*The 50 laps Starr completed are the third-most of any XFINITY last-place finisher at Atlanta, trailing only Steve Park (72 laps on March 8, 1997) and Jason Keller (82 laps on March 11, 2000). No other XFINITY driver has turned more than 39 laps here and finished last.

40) #61-David Starr / 50 laps / crash
39) #19-Brandon Jones / 118 laps / crash
38) #4-Landon Cassill / 128 laps / running
37) #66-C.J. McLaughlin / 139 laps / running
36) #17-Carson Ware / 139 laps / crash

1st) B.J. McLeod Motorsports (3)
2nd) DGM Racing, JD Motorsports, JR Motorsports, Mike Harmon Racing, Motorsports Business Management, RSS Racing / Reaume Brothers Racing (2)
3rd) Our Motorsports, Sam Hunt Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (12)
2nd) Toyota (5)
3rd) Ford (1)


Friday, July 9, 2021

TRUCKS: Morgan Alexander's NASCAR debut ends after early wreck in wild Knoxville inaugural

PHOTO: @NieceMotorsport

Morgan Alexander picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career in Friday’s Corn Belt 150 Presented by Premier Chevy Dealers at the Knoxville Raceway when his #44 Geneva Farms Chevrolet was involved in a multi-truck accident after 63 of 179 laps.

The finish came in Alexander’s series debut. In the Truck Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 10th for the #44, the 169th from a crash, and the 411th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 64th for the #44, the 1,261st from a crash, and the 1,794th for Chevrolet.

A dirt late model racer from Georgia who most recently has campaigned the car No. 711, Alexander has this year been eyeing a transition into asphalt racing. In a combined effort with Niece Motorsports and Bruce Cook, Alexander made his ARCA Menard East Series debut on the four-tenths-mile Southern National Motorsports Park on June 12th. According to his interview with Christian Koelle, Alexander had originally been entered in Cody Efaw’s #50 before the deal changed to Bruce Cook Racing’s #41 Chevrolet. Alexander rolled off 12th in the 16-car field and finished in the same spot, out with electrical issues. 

It was somewhat surprising, then, that Alexander’s first Truck Series start would see him return to dirt in the inaugural Knoxville event. Continuing his working relationship with Al Niece, he’d run the team’s part-time #44 team. This team had run most recently at Darlington, where Bayley Currey finished 21st, and Kyle Larson campaigned the entry in the Bristol Dirt Race, where a crash left him 35th. Multiple sponsors signed on to sponsor Alexander’s truck, including Geneva Farms, Senoia Raceway, Sugar Creek Raceway, Alexander Produce, Booger Brooks Racing, and Performance Lift.

Alexander ranked 34th of 39 drivers in Thursday’s opening practice, a session that did not see the #49 Staar Trucking Toyota of Andrew Gordon not turn a lap. CMI Motorsports’ hauler had a fuel line come loose on the way to the track, causing them to arrive after the end of the session. Alexander’s #44 would roll off 6th in Friday’s third of four heat races and finished next-to-last, beating only point leader John Hunter Nemechek, who voluntarily pulled his backup truck into the garage area midway through the event. Nemechek, sent to the backup after he backed into the wall late in practice, would start 37th in his #4 Mobil 1 Toyota. Alexander’s run put him one row in front in 35th.

Set to start 40th and last was Jennifer Jo Cobb in the #10 Fastener Supply Company Chevrolet. She’d be joined in the rear by Nemechek due to his backup truck, plus a late-arriving Chris Windom. Windom wasn’t originally entered in Friday’s race, but was contacted after XFINITY regular Michael Annett only managed 38th in practice driving the #02 TMC Chevrolet. Windom likewise struggled in his heat, and had only managed the 32nd spot prior to the penalty.

By the time the field approached the starting line, Cobb was back in last place with Devon Rouse, whose Reaume Brothers Racing team rebuilt the rear of his #33 Camping World Chevrolet following an incident in practice. When the green flag dropped, Cobb pulled ahead of Rouse, 5.888 seconds back of the leader. On Lap 4, Rouse edged Cobb for 39th by just four-thousandths of a second, and gradually dropped more than a second back of the #33. By the 13th circuit, Rouse had caught and passed Alexander, dropping him to 39th.

Next to take over last was Tate Fogleman, whose #12 Basin Pump Down Services Chevrolet took the spot on Lap 20. Despite a developing overheating issue that would soon cause his truck to spray water, Fogleman re-passed Cobb on Lap 22 and climbed to 37th by Lap 27. Another shakeup then occurred, dropping Rouse to last on Lap 31, then on Lap 32 the #41 Magnum Contracting Chevrolet of Cody Erickson. By then, both Rouse and Erickson were shown one lap down. Erickson re-passed Rouse on Lap 38, just before the caution fell for Jessica Friesen’s Turn 2 spin in the #62 Halmar International Toyota. Friesen’s truck was stuck in gear, dropping her a lap down, then to last place on Lap 39.

On the Lap 41 restart, Jessica Friesen got the drop on Rouse in what was now the battle for the Lucky Dog. Rouse then re-passed Friesen on Lap 50, just before the leaders started lapping the tail end of the field. By Lap 65, Friesen caught up to the lapped Jennifer Jo Cobb, whose #10 was now shown 3 laps down. Moments later, Friesen was bumped by the lead lap running Derek Kraus in the #19 NAPA Power Premium Plus Toyota. Friesen spun and stopped in the high lane. Seconds later, Alexander, who was running the high lane after he was lapped, skidded sideways and smacked the right-rear of the #62 with the left-rear wheel of his truck. Friesen managed to keep rolling, but Alexander’s truck was towed to the garage with heavy damage around the right-rear wheel.

Crashes would continue to fill the rest of the Bottom Five, particularly in the third and final stage. Taking 39th was Jack Wood, whose #24 Chevy Accessories Chevrolet ruptured the radiator after contact with Parker Price-Miller’s #3 Townline Variety Chevrolet with 59 laps to go. The final wrecks moved Price-Miller from 38th to 29th at the finish.

Taking 38th was Brett Moffitt, whose top-ten run in AM Racing’s #37 Concrete Supply / Destiny Homes Chevrolet ended with a flat left-rear tire after contact from Grant Enfinger, putting him into the wall. Jett Noland ranked 37th after his battered #45 Hype Motorsports was the last to slide into the night’s biggest pileup entering Turn 1. Cup regular Chase Briscoe rounded out the group after the same wreck eliminated Cory Roper’s #04 Ford.

The night’s 14 cautions and 29 laps in overtime resulted in several surprising runs.

After his brief run in last place, Tate Fogleman climbed to 9th at the finish, his first career top-ten finish in his 40th series start. His previous best run was a 13th last summer at Michigan.

Danny Bohn earned just the third top-ten finish of his career and first of the season, taking 10th in On Point Motorsports’ #30 North American Motor Car Toyota. Bohn’s other two top-ten finishes both came at Martinsville.

Jake Griffin made just his eighth series start, worked his way into the Top 10 late, was involved in the start of the night’s biggest accident, and still managed to finish 12th in the Reaume Brothers’ #34 Great Escapes RV Center Chevrolet. His was the teammate to Devon Rouse, who after running last for much of the event salvaged an 18th-place finish.

Chris Windom’s last-minute substitution for Michael Annett took a detour after a late-race incident left him stalled on the track with damage to the #02 TWC Chevrolet. But he got back on the lead lap and managed 15th at the finish, just one spot short of his career-best 14th at Eldora in 2018.

Finally, Norm Benning has long looked forward to running the series’ dirt races, and was looking for a comeback after an incident knocked him out of this spring’s Bristol Dirt Race. Running the same #6 MDS A Sign Co. Chevrolet, he bounced back from colliding with Cody Erickson in the big pileup to finish on the lead lap in 19th. In his 241st series start, this still trails his career-best 12th at Talladega in 2013, but is his best Truck Series finish since October 12, 2019 at Talladega, when he ran 18th. It’s also his first lead-lap finish in a Truck race since August 26, 2018 at Mosport, where he was 20th.

Larry Hess' #44 Rambler, circa 1966
PHOTO: TheNascarHistorian

*The #44 has not finished last in a points-paying NASCAR dirt race since March 25, 1967, when Larry Hess’ 1966 Rambler lost the engine after 5 laps of the Greenville 200 at the Greenville-Pickens Speedway. Hess scored three of the only four last-place finishes for the Rambler, including the last, which came in the Rebel 400 at Darlington on May 11, 1968.
*This marked the third last-place finish for Niece Motorsports’ #44 team in 2021, joining James Buescher at Daytona on February 12th and Conor Daly at Las Vegas on March 5th.

40) #44-Morgan Alexander / 63 laps / crash
39) #24-Jack Wood / 91 laps / crash
38) #37-Brett Moffitt / 139 laps / crash
37) #45-Jett Noland / 151 laps / crash
36) #04-Chase Briscoe / 153 laps / crash

1st) Niece Motorsports (5)
2nd) GMS Racing, Rackley-W.A.R. (2)
3rd) CMI Motorsports, Norm Benning Racing, Reaume Brothers Racing, Roper Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (12)
2nd) Ford, Toyota (1)